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Monica Oxenreiter is a seventeen year old high school student living at home in Pittsburgh, PA.

How old were you when you were diagnosed with diabetes and how long have you lived with diabetes?

I was thirteen months old when I was diagnosed with type one diabetes. I am seventeen years old, so I have had it for sixteen years.

You are the founder of Zip The Cure, what was the initial inspiration about starting this organization and how has being a diabetes advocate influenced the way you feel about living with a chronic illness?

My brother and I were both Pennsylvania delegates to the Children’s Congress in 2005. While we were there, we met many people our age, from across the  country, who were dedicated to finding a cure. We wanted to find a similar way to involve people from every state in the search for the cure. Zip the Cure is a national program that provides a fundraising opportunity accessible anywhere in the United States, on a local level. This is a way for everyone to contribute at their own level toward a much larger goal. Diabetes affects people in every zip code across the country; this is a way for people to work together to try to make a difference. We received approval from JDRF as a third-party fundraiser and set up a website (www.zipthecure.com). It has allowed me to connect with people across the country who are trying to find a cure for diabetes. In addition, it has given me a way to contribute towards a cure, which is one of the most important causes for me.

What is the biggest challenge to living with diabetes as a woman? What, if any, has been positive about living with diabetes?

The biggest challenge of living with diabetes is the threat of complications in the future. For the most part I try to stay optimistic. My diagnosis could be viewed as a tragedy for a thirteen-month-old, but instead it has allowed me to come into contact with extremely generous people, as well as very supportive mentors, collaborators, and volunteers.

What has been the greatest piece of advice you’ve received about living with diabetes?

Rather than advice, the best influence on having type one diabetes that I have received is to maintain a positive attitude to try and keep myself as healthy as possible until a cure is found.